The Primal Wound

White girl with a Korean mom thought she was adopted. The truth was more unsettling.

Jessica Kern found out she was born of a surrogate mother. You really need to read her story. One of the things that struck me was the connection between the feelings of the adoptive children, how they long to know their real parents, and the theology of the body. The bond between mother and child cannot be erased or transferred easily.  The church is right to oppose surrogacy.

Kern also talked about the “primal wound,” an idea promulgated by Nancy Verrier in her book of the same name.  In the Breeders documentary, the author explains, “The primal wound is what happens when you separate a baby and its mother.  Babies know their own mother through all their senses, and when for some reason … the baby is separated from that mother, the prenatal bonding is interrupted, there is a trauma that happens to both the baby and the mother, and they both feel as if something is missing within them.”

Is school as we know it unnatural and potentially damaging to children?

What the Modern World has Forgotten About Children and Learning:

The following statement somehow showed up on my Twitter feed the other day: “Spontaneous reading happens for a few kids. The vast majority need (and all can benefit from) explicit instruction in phonics.”

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It got under my skin, and not just because I personally had proven in the first grade that it is possible to be bad at phonics even if you already know how to read. It was her tone; that tone of sublime assurance on the point, which, further tweets revealed, is derived from “research” and “data” which demonstrate it to be true.

Many such “scientific” pronouncements have emanated from the educational establishment over the last hundred years or so. The fact that the proven truths of each generation are discovered by the next to be harmful folly never discourages the current crop of experts who are keen to impose their freshly-minted certainties on children. Their tone of cool authority carries a clear message to the rest of us: “We know how children learn. You don’t.”

So they explain it to us.

The “scientific consensus” about phonics, generated by a panel convened by the Bush administration and used to justify billions of dollars in government contracts awarded to Bush supporters in the textbook and testing industries, has been widely accepted as fact through the years of “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top,” so if history is any guide, its days are numbered. Any day now there will be new research which proves that direct phonics instruction to very young children is harmful, that it bewilders and dismays them and makes them hate reading (we all know that’s often true, so science may well discover it) — and millions of new textbooks, tests, and teacher guides will have to be purchased at taxpayer expense from the Bushes’ old friends at McGraw-Hill.

The problems with this process are many, but the one that I’d like to highlight is this: the available “data” that drives it is not, as a matter of fact, the “science of how people learn.” It is the “science of what happens to people in schools.”

This is when it occurred to me: people today do not even know what children are actually like. They only know what children are like in schools.

Schools as we know them have existed for a very short time historically: they are in themselves a vast social experiment. A lot of data are in at this point. One in four Americans does not know the earth revolves around the sun. Half of Americans don’t know that antibiotics can’t cure a virus. 45% of American high school graduates don’t know that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. These aren’t things that are difficult to know. If the hypothesis is that universal compulsory schooling is the best way to to create an informed and critically literate citizenry, then anyone looking at the data with a clear eye would have to concede that the results are, at best, mixed.

On the other hand, virtually all white American settlers in the northeastern colonies at the time of the American Revolution could read, not because they had all been to school, and certainly not because they had all been tutored in phonics, which didn’t exist at the time.

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Around the world, every day, millions and millions and millions of normal bright healthy children are labelled as failures in ways that damage them for life. And increasingly, those who cannot adapt to the artificial environment of school are diagnosed as brain-disordered and drugged.

It is in this context that we set out to research how human beings learn. But collecting data on human learning based on children’s behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World.

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Since the Enlightenment, every generation of scientists has tended to fall into the fallacy that now we stand at the apex of human knowledge and understanding, that error has fallen away at our feet, and that now we “know” how things really are. Depending on the domain being studied, this intellectual hubris can yield results which are comical, awkward, destructive, or, when it comes to children, tragic. In the 1950’s scientists “knew” that baby formula was better for children than human milk, an absurdity which has been responsible for the deaths by diarrheal disease and malnutrition of millions of infants in the developing world. They “knew” that newborns, like animals, did not have sufficiently developed neural systems to feel pain, so they performed surgery on thousands of infants (and animals) without anesthesia. They “knew” that people learn as a consequence of positive or negative reinforcements for behavior rather than as a result of internal passions, drives, and preferences –- let alone as a result of a celestial river running through them –– so they persuaded an entire education system to train children like pigeons and rats, with incessant scrutiny and “feedback,” punishments and rewards.

Right now American phonics advocates are claiming that they “know” how children learn to read and how best to teach them. They know nothing of the kind. A key value in serious scientific inquiry is also a key value in every indigenous culture around the world: humility.

When everyone is a racist, then no one will be

Gotta start with those kids early!  A writer over at the Carlos Slim’s blog wonders: Are We Raising Racists?

The consequences are serious. When we don’t talk honestly with white children about racism, they become more likely to disbelieve or discount their peers when they report experiencing racism. “But we’re all equal” becomes a rote response that actually blocks white children from recognizing or taking seriously racism when they see it or hear about it. This is at best.

I note that only white children need to be spoken to about racism.  Minorities are never racist, children, remember that.

At worst, the consequences are akin to what happens when you breathe in polluted air. Not realizing the pollution is there doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you. White children are exposed to racism daily. If we parents don’t point it out, show how it works and teach why it is false, over time our children are more likely to accept racist messages at face value. When they see racial inequality — when the only doctors or teachers they see are white, or fewer kids in accelerated classes are black, for example — they won’t blame racism. Instead, they’ll blame people of color for somehow falling short.

Minorities also never fall short–which is why we’ve had to scrap literacy tests for teachers in order to get more minority teachers.

We have better models. Parents of black and Latino children have long made thoughtful choices about when and how to engage in difficult and nuanced discussions about difference. Studies show that such parents are two to five times more likely than whites to teach their children explicitly about race from very young ages to counter negative social messages and build a strong sense of identity.

Which group is more like to have a chip on their shoulder about race?  Might it possibly be because yo mama told you that pinky’s out to get you and pointed at every possible instance and example of this?

After telling her daughter that George Washington was a horrible person, the writer concludes:

It’s always risky to tell other people how to raise their children, and I don’t want to imply that I’m some kind of perfect parent. On top of that, our children and families are all different and there are many distinct ways to have conversations about race with our children. But however we talk about it, we need to talk about racism now more than ever.

Liberals have this bizarre black and white sort of thinking.  We can’t say that George Washington as a good person because he owned slaves and therefore was a bad person. We can’t tell our children that “we’re all equal” because if we’re equal then we must be equal in every way possible thus nothing bad happens to other people that doesn’t happen to us.  Sorry, but George Washington, just like every person ever, had good and bad qualities.  Also he freed all his slaves.  (I  know, I know, it was after his death so he didn’t tear his new nation apart and start the Civil War early.  What a jerk.)  I can be equal to you, and I can also have problems that you don’t have.  Are you ignoring my Nixon-only problem, you vile bigot?

My parents raised me to be a not-racist.  They failed because the culture around me kept saying over and over “you’re a white person; white people are racist; why aren’t you noticing how racist you are, you racist?”  When you try to shove something down someone’s throat, the gag reflex kicks in.  The only thing that’s creating more racists, is YOU who won’t shut up about racism.

 

A Day Without [Feminist] Women

One is tempted to say “good riddance.”  The only impact they’re likely to make unfortunately is to hurt other women who are forced to take the day off to watch their kids who can’t go to school because so many teachers took off that schools had to be closed. Many of these women will be of lower incomes who cannot afford to miss a day of work or pay for extra childcare.  It’s also possible that some of the women who strike today will lose their jobs — tomorrow may be a repeat DayWithoutJobs (as it was for those immigrants who decided to take the day off without permission).  I’ve seen several comments saying this could actually help businesses weed out the crazies – ‘ah, they’ve identified themselves; that makes it easy to pick who’ll be in this next lay-off!’

According to protest spokeswoman Cassady Findlay:

the action is aimed at highlighting the effect of women on the country’s socio-economic system and would demonstrate how the paid and unpaid work of women keeps households, communities and economies running.

“We provide all this value and keep the system going, and receive unequal benefits from it,” Findlay said.

Findlay said it is important for white women to be in solidarity with minority women… “It’s when women of all backgrounds strike and stand together that we’re really going to see the impact.”

Unlike the Women’s March, Wednesday’s protest focuses on the absence of women, who are being steered to local rallies and community groups and away from work or shopping in stores or online. Organizers also are asking women to wear red to signify love and sacrifice.

What exactly do they mean by “unpaid work”? Homemakers and stay-at-home moms?  So you’re going to not bother to feed your children today?  Let the kids run in the street so you can lie on the couch snacking and binge-watching Netflix?  Let your home become a pigsty?  This proves what exactly?  How is this supporting any cause?

Most families do appreciate the women who help to run things and take care of them.  Ask most men and they’ll express gratitude for what their wives do (and insist they’re very happy they don’t have to do those things!).  Sure, sometimes women are taken for granted in domestic settings, but how often does anyone, female or male, get praised to high heaven for the work they are expected to do for their jobs?  The unequal benefits women supposedly receive for their work is a feminist propaganda point that has been disproved so many times it’s like beating a dead horse at this point.  Feminist Christina Hoff Sommers goes over the facts again here.

How about about wearing red to signify love and sacrifice?  Sounds nice doesn’t it?  But how does spitefully refusing to do your jobs (whatever they may be) and ignoring your responsibilities prove your worth  or demonstrate love and sacrifice?  Selfish whining, self-importance, and grown-up (sort of) versions of temper tantrums sound like the opposite of love and sacrifice to me.

Despite platitudes about solidarity among women, let’s not forget that women of all backgrounds aren’t actually welcome in this protest.

It’s being billed as “A Day Without a Woman,” but apparently only pro-union, pro-choice, anti-Israel women who can afford to skip work need apply… Like the Women’s March, however, the event is embedded with political messages that many women may find objectionable.

The Day Without a Woman manifesto includes strong support for unions, a “living wage,” “fair pay” and “solidarity with the sex workers’ rights movement,” without explaining what those policies entail.

One of the group’s premier partners is Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, which effectively shuts out pro-life women, said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

“Does Planned Parenthood, a main sponsor of the Women’s March, approve the closing of schools and putting unnecessary burdens on women, especially working mothers who rely on a regular school schedule?” said Ms. Hawkins. “Are they OK with children from low-income families who will go hungry on Wednesday? Women’s empowerment shouldn’t rely on putting other women and children in precarious situations just to make a point.”

Aside from the slew of parents complaining about school closures, there have been plenty of other criticisms.  One writer claims that ‘A Day Without a Woman’ is a strike for privileged protesters:

Make no mistake, March 8 will mostly be a day without women who can afford to skip work, shuffle childcare and household duties to someone else, and shop at stores that are likely to open at 10 and close at 5. As for wearing red, what is the dress code, exactly? Are you supposed to wear your pink pussy hats, too?

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A Day Without a Woman seems especially poised for unquantifiable results, given the diffuse nature of its platform.

 Any male who complains about having to pick up the slack left by striking/boycotting women can count on plenty of eye-rolling invocations of the popular refrain “I Drink Male Tears.”

Meanwhile, for the millions of women who have no choice but to show up and meet their responsibilities on March 8 (and every day), it will be business as usual.

Which, when you stop to think about it, is kind of the point, isn’t it? At least it should be. We are nearly half the labor force now. We are just as important in the workplace and to our families’ fiscal welfare as men. All things being equal (which is what we’re after, right?), we are too essential to play hooky.

That’s why the idea that women should take a day off en masse to make a political point is both self-defeating and vaguely insulting. It’s meant to highlight how crucial we are, but its very premise also suggest the opposite: Women are expendable. A Day Without a Woman plays into the idea that we entered the workforce not to support ourselves and our families but to combat boredom or to boost our self-esteem. For all but a very few affluent women, that’s never been the case.

Demonstrating yet again that they don’t actually care about real women, their children or their families, privileged feminists Strike and March and Protest to end imaginary wrongs. They don’t even have concrete objectives or policy suggestions to end these supposed injustices, much less notice or care about the true injustices in the world today.

Worst Article for Expectant Moms

I recently saw this article, Mom’s Message About Her Baby’s Death: “If I Had Given Him Just 1 Bottle, He’d Still Be Alive, posted with the recommendation to share it with all new and expectant parents.  That has got to be the absolutely worst advice ever.  The article is of questionable veracity – there is something very fishy about it.  The link is titled “baby dies from cluster breastfeeding” and claims that this couple, “Jillian and her husband thought that they were doing everything in their power to prepare themselves. ‘We took all of the classes. Bought and read all of the books. We were ready! Or so we thought'” and yet somehow their baby dies at 10 days old:

After getting home, Landon fell asleep while cluster feeding and became unresponsive with no pulse, and turned blue. After 15 days on life support, the newborn passed away. “The best advice I was given by one of his NICU doctors while he was on life support is ‘Sure breast is best, but follow with the bottle,'” she wrote. “This way you know your baby has eaten enough. If only I could go back in time.”

Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, an emergency physician with a background in newborn brain injury research at Brown University, explained how Landon died as a result of dehydration, which was followed by cardiac arrest caused by brain injury:

“Constant, unsatisfied nursing and inconsolable crying are two of the signs of newborn starvation that lead to brain-threatening complications. If a child is receiving a fraction of their caloric requirement through early exclusive breastfeeding, they can experience severe hunger and thirst, which is why they will cry inconsolably and breastfeed continuously when it is the only source of calories and fluid they are offered. If a mother’s colostrum does not meet the child’s caloric requirement, they will breastfeed for hours a day in an attempt to relieve their hunger. A child who is “cluster-feeding” may actually burn more calories breastfeeding than they receive in return, which can result in fasting conditions and accelerated weight loss.”

Five years later, his mom is still dealing with endless guilt and questions what her life be now if she had just known to give him a bottle.

So here’s my take as someone who spent years keeping up-to-date on pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding best evidence-based practices and sharing them with expectant and new moms:

a) If the parents had known to watch wet and dirty diapers, there is no way this baby could have died of dehydration.  If there is enough coming out, then there is enough going in. If the parents were at all educated about newborns and breastfeeding, they would have known this. Unless there is some other rare or unusual medical issue going on with the baby that isn’t addressed in the article (if indeed anyone even bothered to figure it out).  I’m not sure how this can be seen as anything other than tragic parental ignorance or some very strange underlying medical issue.  Or there’s a lot more to the story than is being reported.

b) Sounds like this could be a problem of medical neglect/incompetence, because they should have made sure the baby was getting enough nourishment/liquids.  Hospitals normally keep track of these things when mom and baby are there after delivery and are usually prompt in pushing bottles if they suspect baby’s not getting enough.  Where were her release instructions telling her what to watch for (they typically include signs of dehydration) and how to tell if the baby was getting enough?  Where was her follow-up visit with a pediatrician after baby was discharged from the hospital?  Why wasn’t anyone weighing this baby to see if weight loss stopped at 10% and started to pick back up?  Why wasn’t there a lactation consultant telling her to pump if it seemed she wasn’t producing enough or if the baby wasn’t getting enough?

c) The advice given by the NICU Doctor,”sure breast is best, but follow with the bottle,” is terrible advice for normal situations.  For a normal mother/baby pair this advice may well spell the early and unnecessary end of breastfeeding.  It is possible that this advice was appropriate to this particular mother, but her situation was clearly not normal.  Sifting the normal situations from the abnormal ones is why people include medical professionals in the process of birth and breastfeeding at all.  Otherwise, if all situations were normal, they would be entirely unnecessary.  The quoted emergency doctor’s statements are also problematic to be sharing with expectant parents.  What she says might have been true in this situation, but just isn’t good advice for most parents.  Whether a baby is crying “too much” is really subjective.  Some babies come out screaming and don’t stop for years (only a slight exaggeration) even though there is nothing physically wrong with them.  This is why many midwives and doctors tell new moms to call/visit if they are worried, if they think something might be wrong.  It doesn’t hurt to check, though most of the time nothing will be wrong.  Also cluster feeding and newborns nursing “constantly” can also be completely normal.  When a baby is born he has a stomach the size of a marble.  It doesn’t take much to fill it up, and it needs to be filled pretty frequently.  Breastfeeding for “hours a day” is normal for a newborn.  Those are well-established facts.

This mother’s guilt, and the likely malpractice of her care providers, may make it attractive to blame breastfeeding for her baby’s death rather than looking at what the real reasons might be.  Breastfeeding doesn’t kill babies; it sustains them.  We’re mammals; how else would the human race have continued to exist for thousands of years before the invention of man-made substitutes?

Sharing inaccurate and fear-mongering articles with expectant mothers, especially first-time moms, will only freak them out and possibly cause them to make fear-based decisions, rather than evidence-based ones for their babies’ care and feeding.  Spreading this around doesn’t do anyone any favors.  Including these bereaved parents.

Causes for the Entitlement Epidemic

Are today’s children over-indulged and over-protected?  Does this at least in part explain what’s wrong with today’s overly-entitled young adults?  And why they need “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings?”

Vitamin N makes a lot of sense.  There’s social science to back this up and I think many people have seen it first hand too.

Sticks and Stones – I think there’s a need for balance on this one.  Some protection and helping kids deal with the cruelty of others is needed.  You can’t just abandon them to their own devices; they are kids after all with a lot of maturing to do.  I’m wondering what other causes there may be for some people growing up a lot tougher and more resilient than others.